Country Music Memoirs: Sensational Tales of Legends and Legacies

Whether you listen to classic country music or today’s pop versions, these 5 country artist made a mark on the genre. Below are their memoirs and biographies.

Art and Music Lifestyle Memoirs & Biographies Recommendations

Country music has seen quite an evolution in style over the last 70 years. There’s still some twang in the vocals of today’s country, but there’s far more of a pop vibe happening than ever before. I happen to be a country music fan who likes the genre as a whole; no matter the style, you can find my country music playlist, like my bookshelf, quite eclectic. If, like me, you like to listen to your country and read about it to, I’ve got some artist memoirs and biography recs for you!

It’s a Long Story: My Life by Willie Nelson and David Ritz

I just had to start this list with the legend himself, Willie Nelson. This man has one of the most interesting backgrounds I’ve ever read. He’s never been one to shy away from the truth and always authentically displays himself for his fans. In true Willie Nelson fashion, he divulges everything in this national bestseller. 


“’Unvarnished. Funny. Leaving no stone unturned’…So say the publishers about this audiobook I’ve written. What I say is that this is the story of my life, told as clear as a Texas sky and in the same rhythm that I lived it. It’s a story of restlessness and the purity of the moment and living right. Of my childhood in Abbott, Texas, to the Pacific Northwest, from Nashville to Hawaii, and all the way back again. Of selling vacuum cleaners and encyclopedias while hosting radio shows and writing song after song, hoping to strike gold. It’s a story of true love, wild times, best friends, and barrooms, with a musical sound track ripping right through it. My life gets lived on the road, at home, and on the road again, tried and true, and I’ve written it all down from my heart to yours. Signed, Willie Nelson.”

Willie Nelson

Dolly Parton, Storyteller: My Life in Lyrics by Dolly Parton and Robert K. Owemann

The Queen of Country, Dolly Parton, has written numerous memoirs and biographies commemorating her life and legacy to words. This particular book is one of my favorites. Dolly has written her own music her entire career. Most of which are recollections of her life, events, and moments that have happened that she wants to share with the world. Within the pages of this memoir, see never-before-seen photos, personal anecdotes, and discussions regarding her songwriting. 


“I wrote a lot of songs that people wouldn’t play on the radio, but I didn’t care. It bothered me at the time, but I never thought, ‘I shouldn’t have done that’” Whatever I write is just what comes out of me, and I refuse to be judged.”

Dolly Parton

The Hag: The Life, Times, and Music of Merle Haggard by Marc Eliot

Perhaps one of the most recognizable country music stars of all time, Merle Haggard had a definitive style and tone. He set the stage for many of the great artists who came after him. With a five-decade career, an extremely public, private life, and a reputation that wasn’t always good, Eliot catalogs it all. From dirt poor to infamous, Merle lived a life of upheaval while trying to bring the American Dream to life. Read along to get a better picture of the man who released 63 country music albums over the course of his career.


“What redeemed [Merle Haggard] were his talents as a singer and songwriter. His lyrics clearly show that he was an American poet of the first rank, an original voice in the twentieth century, his melodies deceptively simple . . . until you try to sing them.”

-Marc Eliot, Introduction

Coal Miner’s Daughter by Loretta Lynn

I remember watching the movie that went along with this autobiography when I was a child in the 90s. Sissy Spacek brought Loretta Lynn’s younger self to life, and I’ve been an LL fan ever since. Married at 13, her husband gave her a guitar as a birthday present 11 years later, never realizing what that gift would bring. It’s one thing to watch, but hearing it told from Loretta herself was quite the experience.


“My Daddy was color-blind in two ways. About the only color he could see real good was yellow, and I have troubled telling red from orange myself. But we were also color-blind about people. It’s like in 1972, when I was up for the award for Best Female Singer on national television, and Charley Pride was going to present the award. People warned me not to kiss Charley in case I won, because it would hurt my popularity with country fans. I heard that one girl singer got canceled Down South after giving a little peck to a black friend on television. Well, Charley Pride is one of my favorite people in country music, and I got so mad that when I won I made sure I gave him a big old hug and a kiss right on camera. You know what? Nobody canceled on me. If they had, fine, I’d have gone home to my babies and canned some string beans and the heck with them all.” 

Loretta Lynn

Reba: My Story by Reba McEntire and Tom Carter

If you ask anyone who that red-headed country singer is, 11 out of 10 times, they will say Reba. She’s had quite the career: musician, tv and movies, and writer of both songs and books. This autobiography chronicles her life, from her Oklahoma upbringing to her rise in Country music and many heartwrenching and heartwarming personal reflections. 


“My kind of country is the clear, pure, old-fashioned kind, emotional and gutsy and also sentimental. The songs tell about real human problems – love and the pain of heartbreak and loss – in a way that shows you that the singer is no stranger to pain, and is tough enough to suffer and survive.”

Reba McEntire

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